Writer: David Hazan
Artist: Shane Connery Volk
Publisher: Mad Cave
Description: In this twisted Medieval noir, the sheriff of Nottingham hunts a serial killer with a penchant for tax collectors. The sheriffs investigation makes him the target of England’s most nefarious power brokers. That’s to say nothing of the Merry Men, Terrorist lurking amongst the trees of Sherwood, led by and enigma down only as “Hood.”
Why it Made the List: The idea of doing another take on the Robin Hood story may cause you to roll your eyes, but the concept here is on point. Despite this being based in one of the oldest stories in human history they have found a new angle by making the sheriff of Nottingham our main protagonist, while Robin Hood acts as the evil force he is trying to hunt down. It is a crime procedural inside a fantasy story. Love Shane Connery Volk’s art style as well it meshes the Medieval world with the noir genre.
74. The Picture of Everything Else
Writer: Dan Watters
Artist: Kishore Mohan
Publisher: Vault Comics
Description: As the 20th century dawns, art promises to change the world…and steep it in blood. A rash of impossible killings sweep through Paris, tearing the rich and beautiful apart in their beds. When two art thieves stumble upon the portraits of the victims damaged in the exact same manner they died, it appears the man who once painted the immortal portrait of Dorian Gray has returned-with darker plans for future works. From the minds of Dan Watters (Coffin Bound, Lucifer, Deep Roots) and Kishore Mohan comes a haunting balance of depravity and beauty.
Why it Made the List: Anytime I see Dan Watters name on a comic I know it is going to make me think. The Picture of Everything Else confronts the idea of storytelling through a multitude of mediums. Using the legend of Dorian Gray as the linchpin Dan Watters and Kishore Mohan view the power of art in a physical and metaphysical way. It was also extremely haunting and shows how the horror genre is more versatile than people give it credit. Some may not even consider this horror but to me it fits into the genre among many others. I love when comics have this massive concept that you can dissect into so many different ways and that is easily this book.
Writer/Artist: Matt Lesniewski
Publisher: Dark Horse
Description: As if being tracked by a violent gang of drug dealers wasn’t enough, a mad scientist’s muscle for hire, who hunts creatures for twisted Frankensteinesque experiments, finds himself fighting his boss and the patchwork monsters he helped create.
Why it Made the List: Did you ever think being a muscle for hire would make your life less predictable? Well, Matt Lesiewski’s graphic novel Static may show you that is not in fact the case. The story follows Emmett who works for an eccentric scientist by collecting different wild animals and creatures he can use for his grand experiment. It’s not the most charming job but it is all he has. Considering the people he owes money to he will take what he can get. Emmet is the type of character that is typically a figure piece in most stories. The heavy that does the damage and provides an obstacle for our hero to overcome. Here we see that man’s story and the pain behind the brawn. He goes through this crisis of identity trying to break free from the cycle he has been forced into. What makes it all work is Matt Lesniewski’s art style. To date myself with a reference this feels like a fantastic short you would stumble upon watching late night reruns of MTV’s Liquid Television. A style trying to break convention in every conceivable way but always remaining dynamic when doing so.
72. Stray Dogs
Writer: Tony Fleecs
Artist: Trish Forstner, Tone Rodriguez,
Publisher: Image Comics
Description: It’s scary being the new dog. In this suspenseful new series, readers meet Sophie, a dog who can’t remember what happened. She doesn’t know how she ended up in this house. She doesn’t recognize any of these other dogs. She knows something terrible happened, but she just… can’t… recall… Wait! Where’s her lady? Now Sophie has to figure out where she is, what’s happening, and how she’s going to survive this. They say there’s no such thing as a bad dog-just bad owners.
Why it Made the List: I do not like calling a book a surprise hit because it makes it seem like the creators have not done anything of note before when that is rarely the case. I do think Stray Dogs was a bigger hit than many expected and reading it you can see what it hit so hard with so many. It is a story that looks like a pristine Disney movie that deals with a serial killer so it messes with your head. I am glad I was able to read this in issue format because each issue is left with a killing cliffhanger, and having a book full of cute dog photos is a great way to brighten your day.
71. Crude: A Battle Against Big Oil
Writer: Pablo Fajardo, Sophie Tardy-Joubert
Artist: Damien Roudeau
Publisher: Graphic Mundi
Description: In 1972, the American oil company Texaco, now known as Chevron, extracted its first barrel of crude oil from Amazonian Ecuador. By the time it pulled out of the region some twenty years later, Texaco had extracted oil from at least three hundred wells and left behind nearly sixteen million gallons of spilled oil and more than eighteen million gallons of toxic waste.Crude brings to light one of the least understood and most important cases of environmental and racial injustice of our time.
Why it Made the List: This covers Pablo Fajardo’s struggles fighting against oil companies like Texaco for the damage they caused to the Amazon rainforest and to the Ecuadorian people. It’s a type of story that is going to make you angry over the lack of consequences for immense greed, and how the richest, most powerful people in the world bend the rules in ways that benefit them and destroy others. The choice to use oil-type paint to construct the visuals to this tale was an apt one. It showcases the lush nature of this land and how that pristine beauty was tainted and destroyed so recklessly. How the poignant greens make way from dark browns and blacks as the entire land loses its health and wellbeing.
Writer: Laurence Luckinbill
Translator: Eryck Tait
Publisher: Dead Reckoning
Description: July 1918. Preparing to speak to an eager audience, 61-year-old Teddy Roosevelt receives the telegram that all parents of children who serve in war fear most: His son Quentin’s plane has been shot down in a dogfight over France. His fate is unknown. Despite rising fear for his youngest son, Teddy takes the stage to speak to his beloved fellow citizens. It is, he says, “my simple duty.” But the speech evolves from politics and the war, into an examination of his life, the choices he’s made, and the costs of his “Warrior Philosophy.”
Why it Made the List: Theodore Roosevelt is one of the most fascinating historical figures. He had the type of life that you would say was too unbelievable if it was just a movie. He of course was real and lived a rather complex life. Teddy is a meditation on that life as he looks back on who he was with the possibility of his son’s death holding over him. It is not often you see a man of his stature question the life that he lived but this read was an opportunity to experience that thought processes in a deeply personal way.
69. Pepper Page Saves the Universe!
Writer: Landry Q. Walker
Artist: Eric Jones
Publisher: First Second
Description: The year is 2421. Awkward and shy, Pepper buries herself in the universe of the classic fictional superhero Supernova to avoid dealing with the perils of the 9th grade. But then fate intervenes when Pepper stumbles into a volatile science experiment run by a sinister substitute teacher named Doctor Killian. Pepper is flung into another dimension, bringing her face to face with an order of cosmic beings who declare her to be the steward of their great power, champion of harmony in the universe, protector of worlds present and past. Pepper is pretty sure they got the wrong girl.
Why it Made the List: The YA market is huge right now so it is getting flooded with a lot of mediocre content. Clearly based on this list Pepper Page Saves the Universe! is an example of how to tell great stories that all ages can read. This is a story that both admires that superhero genre while being a part of it as well. We have seen the story of the dorky kid becoming the hero a bunch but this still finds new ways of approaching that idea. Pepper Page is also a character that is easy to get behind. Her faults are ones you can relate with, and her story is easy to become emotionally invested into. I really hope this is only the first installment to an ongoing series because this world has a lot of potential.
68. Allergic: A Graphic Novel
Writer: Megan Wagner Lloyd
Artist: Michelle Mee Nutter
Description: A coming-of-age middle-grade graphic novel featuring a girl with severe allergies who just wants to find the perfect pet! At home, Maggie is the odd one out. Her parents are preoccupied with getting ready for a new baby, and her younger brothers are twins and always in their own world. Maggie loves animals and thinks a new puppy to call her own is the answer, but when she goes to select one on her birthday, she breaks out in hives and rashes. She’s severely allergic to anything with fur!
Why it Made the List: The best kids’ books are those that can approach topics that are important to kids that never talks down to them. One that takes their issues seriously because they are serious to kids. Not being able to get a dog because your body is actively working against you is heartbreaking. Even as an adult that frustrates me because I remember the joy of having a dog. I think this is a great read for any kid because it shows how to also overcome those challenges that are beyond our control. Actually come to think of it that is a lesson we can all benefit from.
67. Happy Kanako’s Killer Life
Writer/Artist: Toshiya Wakabayashi
Publisher: Seven Seas Entertainment
Description: Nishino Kanako sure hate her job, and is only too happy to snag the first new gig that comes her way. She never expected that her interview would be at an agency for contract killers…or that she’d be really, really good at bumping people off! Kanako doesn’t have a ton of self-confidence, and adjusting to her new life as an assassin isn’t the easiest. Will she ever earn the respect of Sakurai, her prickly but kinda hot new coworker? Find out in this dangerously finny, full-color manga!
Why it Made the List: So did you ever interview for a job and not fully understand what you are interviewing for? Then you get the job only to find out you have signed up to be an assassin? Yes? No? Well, that is exactly Happy Kanoko’s Killer Life. What makes this such an intriguing experience is the unusual tone and how it uses that to anchor the book in irony. This is a book about unaliving people yet it is surgery sweat. Kanoko is learning to become a more complete person by completing the lives of other people. Many of them are bad individuals some though just crossed the wrong people. I struggle to see if there was a larger point here regarding the idea of violence especially considering it skips over that part and never shows it on the page. All the death occurs offscreen or is covered up by lively sound effects. A clear conscience choice makes me curious how all these different ideas will come into play as the book concludes. For now, I am just enjoying it for unabashed irony
66. The Black Panther Party: A Graphic Novel History
Writer: David F. Walker
Artist: Marcus Kwame Anderson
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Description: Founded in Oakland, California, in 1966, the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense was a revolutionary political organization that stood in defiant contrast to the mainstream civil rights movement. This gripping illustrated history explores the impact and legacy of the Panthers, from their social, educational, and healthcare programs that were designed to uplift the Black community to their battle against police brutality through citizen patrols and frequent clashes with the FBI, which targeted the Party from its outset. Using dramatic comic book-style retellings and illustrated profiles of key figures, The Black Panther Party captures the major events, people, and actions of the party, as well as their cultural and political influence and enduring significance.
Why it Made the List: I love non-fiction comics but they can easily read like textbooks if they are not done right. David F. Walker and Marcus Kwame Anderson avoid that by finding the human story behind all this information. It is packed with captivating information that breaks the rigid format. It is also designed rather well to utilize a multitude of info pages that highlight important figures in the movement as the overall narrative is told. As someone who grew up in rural Pennsylvania this is very different than the picture that was painted when I was a child, which goes to show the prejudicial nature of America’s educational system.
65. Sensor / Lovesickness
Writer/Artist: Junji Ito
Publisher: VLZ Media
Description: Horror master Junji Ito explores a new frontier with a grand cosmic horror tale in which a mysterious woman has her way with the world! Did she wander in? Or was she drawn in…? A woman walks alone at the foot of Mount Sengoku. A man appears, saying he’s been waiting for her, and invites her to a nearby village. Surprisingly, the village is covered in hairlike volcanic glass fibers, and all of it shines a bright gold. At night, when the villagers perform their custom of gazing up at the starry sky, countless unidentified flying objects come raining down on them, the opening act for the terror about to occur.
Why it Made the List: As mentioned earlier I have been trying to catch up with more and more Manga and this year was the first time I got to experience the twisted magic of Junji Ito. As the placement on this list would attest his work did not disappoint. Within the first few pages the ability to establish atmosphere was clear. Yes I did cheat and put both of these books together but at the end of the day it allows me to put more comics on this list. If I were to just one Sensor is probably the better work in my eye, but both are solid examples of what you can do with the horror genre.
64. The Blue Flame
Writer: Christopher Cantwell
Artist: Adam Gorham
Publisher: Vault Comics
Description: THE BLUE FLAME is a cosmic hero. The Blue Flame is a DIY vigilante that fights crime on the streets of Milwaukee. The Blue Flame is a blue collar HVAC repairman named SAM BRAUSAM. In the wake of a horrific tragedy, the boundaries of the Blue Flame’s identity blur even further. Now, before a universal trial, the Blue Flame must prove that humanity is worth saving. But in order to do that, Sam Brausam has to save himself. Can he?
Why it Made the List: I really love the way Christopher Cantwell approaches the superhero genre. His current run on Iron Man is one of my favorite Marvel books. With The Blue Flame he along with artist Adam Gorham, letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, and K. Michael Russell get to tell to distinct stories that approach the idea of superheroes in vastly different ways. One being a classic space adventure while the other a down to Earth about an everyday man trying to recover from a tragic event. Both of these intersect but not in obvious ways. Both dealing with failure and that internal and external weight we fill with the responsibilities we have. I have found every single issue to be superbly crafted and thought provoking from beginning to end.
63. My Begging Chart
Writer/Artist: Keiler Roberts
Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly
Description: I love stories that do not feel the need to follow convention in any major way. My Begging Chart is not your typical type of storytelling. There is no three act structure or one complete and crisp narrative. It is like changing the channel on someone’s life getting brief glimpses into their every day goings on. Keiler Roberts’s sensibilities and sense of humor really is similar to mine so I found this consistently hilarious. Especially enjoy the back and forth with her daughter that has a nice mixture of love, admiration, with a side of annoyance. And much of it hitches on Roberts MS diagnosis that is part of the story but not the story. To show people are more than the afflictions they may face. WIth its free flowing style it may not be for everyone as some may wonder what exactly is the story here, but if you enjoy stories that define slice of life this is a book for you. A comic that does not pretend that how we live our lives fits into some sort of structured narrative.
Why it Made the List: I love stories that do not feel the need to follow convention in any major way. My Begging Chart is not your typical type of storytelling. There is no three-act structure or one complete and crisp narrative. It is like changing the channel on someone’s life getting brief glimpses into their everyday goings-on. Keiler Roberts’s sensibilities and sense of humor really is similar to mine so I found this consistently hilarious. Especially enjoy the back and forth with her daughter that has a nice mixture of love, admiration, with a side of annoyance. And much of it hitches on Roberts MS diagnosis that is part of the story but not the story. To show people are more than the afflictions they may face. With its free-flowing style, it may not be for everyone as some may wonder what exactly is the story here, but if you enjoy stories that define slice of life this is a book for you. A comic that does not pretend that how we live our lives fits into some sort of structured narrative.
62. Night Bus
Writer/Artist: Zuo Ma
Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly
Description: In Night Bus, a young woman wearing round glasses finds herself on an adventurous late night bus ride that constantly makes detours through increasingly fantastical landscapes. Meanwhile a young cartoonist returns home after art school and tries his hand at becoming a working artist while watching over his aging grandmother whose memory is deteriorating. Nostalgic leaps take us to an elementary school gymnasium that slowly morphs into a swamp and is raided by a giant catfish. Beetles, salamanders, and bug-eyed fish intrude upon the bus ride of the round-glasses woman as the night stretches on. Night Bus blends autobiography, horror, and fantasy into a vibrantly detailed surreal world that shows a distinct talent surveying his past. Nature infringes upon the man-made world via gigantism and explosive abundance–the images in Night Bus are often unsettling, not aimed to horrify, but to upset the balance of modern life.
Why it Made the List: Reading Night Bus was like reading a story that was directed by both Richard Linklater and David Lynch. Zuo Ma dives into her real-life to showcase everyday people living everyday lives but just as things seem as normal as a summer’s day something out of this world will happen, like a human-sized fish having a conversation on a recliner. It keeps you on your toes and gives insight into Zuo Ma’s creative mind and the pressure she feels. The world is beginning to see her as a failure as she is starting to believe them. That doubt and despair begin to impact her real life as dreams and reality begin to mesh. I am still amazed this was Zuo Ma’s debut graphic novel.
61. Stone Fruit
Writer/Artist: Lee Lai
Description: Bron and Ray are a queer couple who enjoy their role as the fun weirdo aunties to Ray’s niece, six-year-old Nessie. Their playdates are little oases of wildness, joy, and ease in all three of their lives, which ping-pong between familial tensions and deep-seated personal stumbling blocks. As their emotional intimacy erodes, Ray and Bron isolate from each other and attempt to repair their broken family ties — Ray with her overworked, resentful single-mother sister and Bron with her religious teenage sister who doesn’t fully grasp the complexities of gender identity. Taking a leap of faith, each opens up and learns they have more in common with their siblings than they ever knew.
Why it Made the List: Did you ever feel like the only way you can move forward in life is to step away from the one thing that gives your life foundation? Well, that is exactly what happens in Lea Lai’s Graphic Novel Strange Fruit. It is about Bron and Ray and their love for one another and their joy of hanging out with Ray’s niece. But when they eventually step away from that relationship they are forced to find reprieve in the family they had disconnected with. Strange Fruit is full of those uncomfortable conversations we tend to avoid especially when you feel like your family can never fully accept you for who you are. Considering this is Lee Lai’s first attempt at making a graphic novel I was impressed with the command she has for the medium. Using a basic four-panel structure the pace is crisp. The dialog is balanced in how it informs the character and moves the story. It may be too meandering for some as it allows moments to sit and doesn’t force in a clean conclusion, but as an examination of human intimacy, it is rather effective.
60. Black Widow
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Elena Casagrande,
Description: THE BLACK WIDOW WRAPS HER WEB AROUND THE GOLDEN GATE! Natasha Romanoff has just been through the most emotional adventure of her long life, and the experience has left her looking to do things differently. Now allies new and old will come to her aid as the Widow returns to San Francisco! With a new suit, a new base of operations and a new perspective, Natasha sets her sights on a mysterious emerging threat in the city by the bay — a villain known only as Apogee. But Natasha might not be as ahead of the game as she thought, and not everyone in her orbit is exactly what they seem! San Francisco desperately needs the Black Widow — it just doesn’t quite know it yet. Guest-starring the White Widow and Anya Corazon — but who is Lucy?
Why it Made the List: Elena Casagrande has become an all-star artist with this series. Obviously, her action scenes have been incredible in both their creative design and execution. Beyond that, she showed how well she is at rendering human emotion. This series starting with Black Widow living a lie and since that opening arc the truth of that life has remained is a major part of who Natasha has become. Anyone who enjoys the character of Black Widow needs to be reading this book. Easily one of the most complete representations of who she is as a person.
59. Factory Summers
Writer / Artist: Guy Delisle
Translator: Helge Dascher
Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly
Description: The legendary cartoonist aims his pen and paper toward his high school summer job. For three summers beginning when he was 16, cartoonist Guy Delisle worked at a pulp and paper factory in Quebec City. Factory Summers chronicles the daily rhythms of life in the mill, and the twelve hour shifts he spent in a hot, noisy building filled with arcane machinery. Delisle takes his noted outsider perspective and applies it domestically, this time as a boy amongst men through the universal rite of passage of the summer job. Even as a teenager, Delisle’s keen eye for hypocrisy highlights the tensions of class and the rampant sexism an all-male workplace permits.
Why it Made the List: Guy Delisle’s Factory Summers is the type of book I could see being boring for a lot of people because it is perfectly okay with being a mundane story. This is literally the story of how Guy spent his summers working at a local paper factory. The book is not without its drama as Guy touches on some personal details like his relationship with his father who also works at the same factory. Despite sharing a workspace his father is absent for much of the book to no doubt reflect their real life relationship at the time. What this book does best though is capture a specific place in time. The slow decay of the industrial way of life is on full display as even in the few years this covers the factory becomes a shell of itself. The story is populated with people that waste deep into that decay without even realizing it or simply so deep they so no other way out. I found the reserved approach rather affecting but I could see others not feeling nearly the same way. It is fittingly simple to match the world it is representing.
58. WE HEREBY REFUSE: Japanese American Resistance to Wartime Incarceration
Writer: Frank Abe, Tamiko Nimura
Artist: Matt Sasaki, Ross Ishikawa
Publisher: Chin Music Press Inc.
Description: Three voices. Three acts of defiance. One mass injustice. The story of camp as you’ve never seen it before. Japanese Americans complied when evicted from their homes in World War II — but many refused to submit to imprisonment in American concentration camps without a fight.
Why it Made the List: During WWII approximately 120,000 Japanese Americans were held in internment camps. It is a story we do not talk about nearly enough. It is a dark part of American history many would simply like to forget. It should not be forgotten nor should the stories of those who stood up against that oppression. In We Hereby Refuse: Japanese American Resistance During Wartime Incarceration those stories are told. This focuses on three individuals who fought back against the tyranny of their own government. From refusing to be drafted to renouncing US citizens, and even facing off with the United States Government in Court. We see what it really means to fight for your own liberty when your only crime is being part of an already marginalized group. As we look out at the world we live in now these stories are as important as ever. So many cling to victimhood and imagined oppression when asked to do the bare minimum. This demonstrates what it truly means to be obsessed and the actual dangers to fight back against those who have complete control of your life in their hands. Read, listen, learn, and remember what we can easily become when we give in to hysteria and hate.
57. Once & Future
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Dan Mora
Publisher: Boom Studios
Description: Bridgette, Duncan, and Rose – along with the entirety of Britain – are dragged into the Otherworld. It’s a land of predatory monsters and things seem like they can’t get any worse. But of course they can. A rival king rises to confront Arthur, plunging the land into civil war… and both pursue Bridgette, Duncan and Rose as they travel across the land, desperately trying to find a way to return Britain to its senses…
Why it Made the List: I was so happy when I saw Dan Mora was going to be art for Detective Comics because my hope was it would lead more people to this wonderful series. I keep waiting for this story to slow down or lose me but it never does. With each new arc, new issues arise but the fun and adventure is always there. Plus Dan Mora draws the hell out of anything no matter if it is a massive knight or gigantic creature Oddly, I feel the love of this series has dissipated but know if you enjoyed it when it first began it has yet to slow down.
56. Snow Angels
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Description: Milli and Mae don’t really know how their people came to live here. No one does, not even their wise and gentle Father. On Milliken’s twelfth birthday, their father takes the two girls on an overnight skate down the trench — a coming-of-age ritual to teach them how to fish the frozen river, how to hunt the wild Trenchdogs that wander its frigid banks, and how to give proper thanks to their frozen Gods — The Colden Ones. It’s the trip of a lifetime until the girls push beyond the borders of their humble land and awaken the Trench’s deadly defender… The Snowman! What follows next is an action-packed story of survival, loss and redemption
Why it Made the List: As mentioned Comixology had quite the year and for me, this was their best book. Jeff Lemire and Jock make a great creative pair. Their artistic styles have some similarities as they are rough with some rigid edges. Snow Angels starts as a massive chase story as a father and his daughters try to survive a futuristic winter wasteland. It becomes emotional rather quickly and then the challenges keep coming.
55. Run Home If You Don’t Want to Be Killed: The Detroit Uprising of 1943
Writer/Artist: Rachel Marie-Crane Williams
Publisher: North Carolina Press
Description: In the heat of June in 1943, a wave of destructive and deadly civil unrest took place in the streets of Detroit. The city was under the pressures of both wartime industrial production and the nascent civil rights movement, setting the stage for massive turmoil and racial violence. Thirty-four people were killed, most of whom were Black, and over half of these were killed by police. Two thousand people were arrested, and over seven hundred sustained injuries requiring treatment at local hospitals. Property damage was estimated to be nearly $2 million.
Why it Made the List: This comic opened my eyes to a major event in US history I knew nothing about. Rachel Marie-Crane Williams does the work to provide context to what caused this uprising in 1943. One of the most fascinating was how powerful people like Henry Ford were able to put those fighting for worker’s rights and those fighting for Civil RIghts against one another. Instead of fixing the problem, they changed the problem to make the other the enemy. A strategy that worked as it is still used to this day.
54. Young Shadow
Writer/Artist: Ben Sears
Description: Young Shadow usually protects sci-fi Bolt City by making deliveries for the food bank and rescuing pets. But one night, he discovers the Sludge Team, a conspiracy composed of a CEO of a chemical plant, trust-fund punks, and suspicious cops. To stop their evil plan, Young Shadow must don a couple of batons, knee pads, and a small black mask, and team up with Spiral Scratch – another benevolent protector in the fight – and metal-clad nuns. Drawn in bold yellows and blacks, this is a socially conscious action/adventure kid superhero tale.
Why it Made the List: As I was reading Young Shadow I kept waiting for the cynicism to start. It is about this character that feels like the kid version of Adam West, and usually, that means we are getting a story that crushes that sincerity with modern day cynicism. That never happened and it was wonderful. A throwback story that felt like something you would read in the Sunday times. May not be for everyone, but I feel like it is exactly what we need right now.
53. Jonna and The Unpossible Monsters
Writer: Laura Samnee
Artist: Chris Samnee
Publisher: Oni Press
Description: Don’t miss the brand-new, original series written and drawn by Eisner-winner Chris Samnee! Filled with action, adventure… and monsters! Rainbow has been searching for her sister, Jonna, for a year. The last time she saw Jonna was also the first time she saw one of the monsters that now roam the planet. They’re big, ugly, and dangerous creatures, driving humanity to the brink of extinction. Though there isn’t much hope for survival out in the wild, Rainbow knows that her sister is out there somewhere-and she’ll do anything to find her.
Why it Made the List: Seeing Chris Samnee and Laura Samnee do this series together has been a joy. I love Chris Samnee’s art and he has been doing wonders with Fire Power, but with this book, we see a very different side to his style. Jonna and The Unpossible Monsters was a book for all ages in every way. As a grown adult I enjoyed the craft and storytelling, but if I read this as a kid I would have loved the world they created. Also loved this was released in issue format and not just in trade or a graphic novel.
52. Strange Academy
Writer: Skottie Young
Artist: Humberto Ramos
Description: Hearts are broken, uncanny new abilities manifest and a huge secret is revealed! The students attempt to return to some sense of normalcy with a couple of good old-fashioned field trips — but one is to outer space, to uncover a magical artifact with Rocket and Groot, and the other is to Asgard! Then, for orphan Calvin Morse, Parents’ Day at Strange Academy isn’t much fun. But while the rest of the parents tour the campus, Calvin and an unlikely friend will discover something truly terrifying! A shocking murder mystery awaits as Marvel’s smash-hit series continues into its second semester!
Why it Made the List: Strange Academy was easily Marvel’s best new series last year. If you shunned it as being nothing more than a Harry Potter meets X-Men know that you are not wrong in that comparison. It’s still good. A cavalcade of interesting new characters that have become something special in these first few issues. It also has an old-school story structure where nearly every issue acts as a single story while there is a B, C, and D plot that continues issue to issue. If you are new to Marvel comics this is one of the first books I recommend starting with.
51. My Last Summer with Cass
Writer/Artist: Mark Crilley
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Description: Megan and Cass have been joined at the brush for as long as they can remember. For years, while spending summers together at a lakeside cabin, they created art together, from sand to scribbles . . . to anything available. Then Cass moved away to New York. When Megan finally convinces her parents to let her spend a week in the city, too, it seems like Cass has completely changed. She has tattoos, every artist in the city knows her. She even eats chicken feet now! At least one thing has stayed the same: They still make their best art together.
Why it Made the List: Mark Crilley captured that moment in life when you caught between what you are expected to be and what you want to be. Your friends expect you to be one way while your parents have differing expectations. That conflict gets boiled down to one major decision that will forever break a friendship. What I also appreciate is the way this story approaches the concept of making mistakes. Even mistakes that are simply unforgivable. Sometimes good people do bad things for the right reasons.